OneWeb Satellites

Eutelsat becomes key investor in OneWeb

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OneWeb Satellites

OneWeb has secured US$550 million in funding from Eutelsat Communications bringing OneWeb’s total funding to $1.9 billion in fresh equity.

Eutelsat will receive a c.24% equity stake in OneWeb and similar governance rights to the UK Government and Bharti Global, making it a significant equity partner and joining leading investors including the U.K. Government, Bharti Global and SoftBank. The investment is expected to be completed in the second half of 2021, subject to regulatory approvals.

After OneWeb completes the full deployment of its planned 648 LEO satellite constellation, the company anticipates annual revenues of approximately $1 billion in year three or soon thereafter, thanks to its partnership driven, wholesale business plan.

Neil Masterson, Chief Executive Officer of OneWeb, said: “We are delighted with the investment from Eutelsat, which validates our strategy, technology and commercial approach. We now have 80% of the necessary financing for the Gen 1 fleet, of which nearly 30% is already in space. Eutelsat’s global distribution network advances the market entry opportunities for OneWeb and we look forward to working together to capitalise on the growth opportunity and accelerate the pace of execution.”

Commenting on the agreement, Rodolphe Belmer, Eutelsat’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are excited to become a shareholder and partner in OneWeb in the run up to its commercial launch later in the year and to participate in the substantial opportunity represented by the LEO segment within our industry. We are confident in OneWeb’s right-to-win thanks to its earliness to market, priority spectrum rights and evolving, scalable technology.”

Aiber in-flight medical emergency portal

Boeing backs new onboard medical emergency solution

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Aiber in-flight medical emergency portal

Scottish med-tech firm, MIME Technologies, has secured a six-figure funding sum from Boeing HorizonX Global Ventures and also from Scottish Enterprise, Scotland’s national economic development agency, as part of the Boeing Scotland Alliance.

The financial boost will be used for product development, creation of jobs in the firm and accelerate customer growth in both the UK aerospace and global markets, and follows the company’s recent acceptance as one of ten firms globally to participate in the ATI Boeing Accelerator.

The ATI Boeing Accelerator programme was created in partnership with the Aerospace Technology Institute and Boeing. GKN Aerospace is the corporate sponsor and Rolls-Royce recently joined as a partner.

Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Anne Roberts said: “Turning a plane around is complex and expensive, costing anything from £20K to over £250K per flight. Medical emergencies can be stressful for the crew, often little casualty data is gathered to support an informed in-flight decision.”

The onboard Aiber kit helps to improve crew confidence to respond during an emergency and transfers critical vital signs data to doctors on the ground. This enables quicker decisions, reduces risk and helps to improve outcomes. Airlines also receive higher quality incident reports for audit, insurance, and crew training.

Roberts added: “The funding, coupled with the professional input of industry-leading strategists and technical experts will enhance our ability to transact with the aviation market and is a perfect example of how the aviation industry can support new ways to safeguard all passengers.”

Linda Hanna, CEO of Scottish Enterprise and co-chair of the Boeing Scotland Alliance, said, “Our initial investment and support has helped MIME to continue to innovate during the pandemic and we believe it’s well placed to capitalise on air travel opportunities as we adjust to a post-COVID way of life.”

Internal image of Astronics CSC HQ manufacturing lines

Astronics still feeling impact of pandemic

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Internal image of Astronics CSC HQ manufacturing lines

Astronics has reported financial results for the three and twelve months ended 31 December 2020.

Fourth quarter revenue was US$114.8 million, down 42.1% from the comparator period of 2019, but up 7.8% sequentially from the third quarter. The Company incurred a pre-tax loss of $7.5 million.

Revenue in 2020 was $502.6 million, down 35% compared with 2019 as a direct result of the global pandemic. Net loss for the year was $115.8 million.

Commercial aerospace was about $263 million of 2020 revenue, or 52% of total revenue, down nearly 50%. Aircraft build rates are expected to improve modestly during 2021 from current levels as production of the 737 MAX picks up. The aftermarket is expected to strengthen over the course of the year as aircraft utilisation and load factors increase.

The company also reported that general aviation demand contracted about 11% to approximately $60 million, or 12% of revenue. Most of Astronics’ general aviation revenue is line fit driven by the manufacture of new aircraft, although there is some amount of aftermarket business as well. New build rates for business jet aircraft are expected to improve in 2021 from current levels.

Referencing the recertification of the 737 MAX, CEO Peter J. Gundermann commented: “Back in 2019, before the pandemic, it was our single largest aircraft production program across our entire company, for which we provide a minimum of $90,000 per aircraft built. And depending on how it’s configured, that total can increase up to $250,000 or so. We do not expect much impact from that recertification in the first half of the year as Boeing is building at a rather low rate and they are going to burn off inventory that accumulated when the production shut down almost a year ago. But we expect in the second half that, that will start to have a meaningful impact on our financials. And if Boeing hits their production – anticipated production rates going into 2022, it should again be one of our larger programs across our company.”

Before the pandemic, the business jet market was about 10% of the company’s volume. Gundermann is optimistic that the publicly announced intention to increase production rates by OEMs should help its line fit activity.

SmartSky Networks aicraft

SmartSky successfully closes funding round

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SmartSky Networks aicraft

SmartSky Networks has confirmed it has raised more than US$32 million in additional equity and debt funding, as it moves forward with plans to launch its next-generation aviation Wi-Fi connectivity service later this year.

“In a display of confidence in the future of SmartSky’s groundbreaking technology and services, we received new funds from our institutional investors,” said SmartSky CEO David Helfgott.

SmartSky’s office-grade in-flight Wi-Fi service for business and commercial aviation uses the company’s uniquely scalable, single-beam-per-aircraft approach. Through its Skytelligence digital innovation platform, the company aims to improve safety and efficiency while providing the industry with new ancillary revenue sources.

Bombardier Learjet

Bombardier signals end of the road for Learjet

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Bombardier Learjet

Bombardier has confirmed it will end production of Learjet aircraft later this year, allowing the Company to focus on its more profitable Challenger and Global aircraft families and accelerate the expansion of its customer services business.

The announcement was made as Bombardier reported its fourth quarter and full year 2020 results, provided guidance for 2021 and outlined a number of actions to drive profitability and productivity as the Company focuses exclusively on “designing, building and servicing the world’s best business jets.”

“With our strategic repositioning now complete, we are very excited to embark on our journey as a pure-play business jet company,” said Éric Martel, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bombardier Inc. “Our unmatched product portfolio, world-class customer services network, and incredibly talented employees give us a strong foundation to build upon. We are encouraged by our momentum in the fourth quarter and are confident in the actions we are taking to navigate through the pandemic and better position the Company for a market recovery.”

“With more than 3,000 aircraft delivered since its entry-into-service in 1963, the iconic Learjet aircraft has had a remarkable and lasting impact on business aviation. Passengers all over the world love to fly this exceptional aircraft and count on its unmatched performance and reliability. However, given the increasingly challenging market dynamics, we have made this difficult decision to end Learjet production,” explained Martel.

Bombardier will continue to fully support the Learjet fleet well into the future, and to this end, today launched the Learjet RACER remanufacturing program for Learjet 40 and Learjet 45 aircraft. RACER program includes a bundled set of enhancements, including interior and exterior components, new avionics, high-speed connectivity, engine enhancements, and improved aircraft maintenance costs. The RACER remanufacturing program will be offered exclusively through Bombardier’s service centre in Wichita, Kansas.

Gilat Honeywell test flight Feb 2020

Gilat to focus on IFC terminal market

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Gilat Honeywell test flight Feb 2020

As part of its Q4 and Full Year 2019 results announcement, Gilat has announced it has discontinued its Gilat’s tail-mount Ku-band antenna project, which saw the company enter the business aviation market with a Tier-1 business aviation service provider.

Gilat will instead refocus on other opportunities that the significant growth in the IFC terminal market offers.

This included the recent demonstration of high performance and instantaneous multi-orbit LEO-GEO switchover between Telesat’s satellites over Ka-band capacity onboard Honeywell’s Boeing 757 commercial test aircraft.

In late January, Gilat agreed to a US$532.5 million takeover from Comtech Telecommunications Corp.

SmartSky secures additional funding as it moves towards Q2 2020 launch

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SmartSky Networks has received an additional US$25 million from funds managed by the Global Credit Opportunities team at BlackRock, after surpassing an important network deployment milestone on its way towards beginning commercial operations during the second quarter of 2020.

Funds managed by the Global Credit Opportunities platform at BlackRock previously committed to a $75 million credit facility, with $50 million drawn initially. The final $25 million was contingent upon the company making substantial progress on the nationwide network rollout, which it achieved in November 2019.

“SmartSky has consistently been able to attract capital from top companies because there is strong support for our technology in aviation connectivity,” said Haynes Griffin, SmartSky Chairman and CEO.

SmartSky’s new-generation network uses a novel single-beam-per-aircraft approach using both proven 4G LTE and emerging 5G technologies.